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An insight into bullies

Hi guys,
I know I can't post a link here, but I wanted to make you guys aware of an article I stumbled into this past weekend by an educational association.
Basically, this article was advising teachers that if they had a bully in their classroom, to pay special attention to the bully and look for signs of abuse. The article went into some depth about how school bullies are the most vulnerable children and are suffering in some manner from neglect or abuse in their home environments -- more than any other children.
This broke my heart.
I was doing a search on the topic because my own child had an incident this past week with a boy who was his lab partner. While the teacher was paying attention in another corner of the classroom, this boy punched my child twice in the stomach. Needless to say, I was alarmed and highly upset. I found myself fighting intense anger at this other child and at his parents.
I did a web search about school bullies as a result (because that's what I do when I'm upset -- I seek out information about whatever is upsetting to me).
And that's when I found this article.
This allowed me to share with my own child that this lab partner is fighting his own battles and that we must feel sorry for him.
Thankfully, the school has been very responsive to my report on the incident. The teacher has given my child a new lab partner, and the principal and guidance counselor office has been made aware.
Which brings up ANOTHER point:
If you're the victim of a bully at school, PLEASE tell someone. Don't stay quiet about it. The teacher was unaware that my child had been punched until I emailed him. My child left the classroom without saying one word about it and came home very upset and unloaded on me.
So please (please!) speak up, because the only way adults can help you -- and also can help the bully if he or she is being hurt at home -- is for us to know about it.
Anyway, food for thought, and as always, thanks to Cybersmile for this wonderful forum.
Always happy to help!

Thanks, Aileen, your comments are very welcome and helpful.

I try very hard as a parent to remember that teachers are "one of 30" in the room, i.e., anything can happen when your back is turned.

Unfortunately since the time I posted this about a month ago, this particular child has continued to harass my child. Last week, rather than handle the situation through emails or phone calls, I just jumped in my car and showed up at the school unannounced and asked to see his guidance counselor.

We only have 4 days of school left on our calendar. On the one hand, I felt like, "Well, it's the end of the school year, and they can't do much, can they?"

On the other hand, I want my child to know that I have his back at all times and that I take all of his concerns extremely seriously.

Not only that, his grades in this particular class have suffered tremendously. In his other classes, his average is between 91-100 percent. In this class, he has a solid D. I discovered that this other boy was interfering with his concentration and also doing things like throwing his books against the wall when the teacher left the room and hiding his calculator.

Like you said, the teacher was unaware because my child was telling ME and not the teacher! This is something I will never understand ... why they remain silent. Is it intimidation? Fear? Desiring social acceptance? All of the above?

I don't know the answer, but the school has determined that next year in 8th grade, he will not be on the same "team" with this other boy (meaning they will not share classes).

I did share with the guidance counselor that when one bully goes away, another comes to take his/her place. It has been an ongoing saga for us with my child's Asperger's Syndrome.

That said, this summer I intend on working with my child to empower him and know how to deal with these situations going forward. I am going to put some money back into a child psychologist and schedule some sessions. I feel that now that my child is going to be 13 next month, he definitely needs some "coping skills." And I know that as a mom of a boy, he does not want me hanging over his shoulder to "protect" him, even though he wants my support.

I guess the bottom line is that parents need to communicate with teachers when something is amiss. Today I shared on Twitter with Cybersmile a link to another national story -- a 13-year-old girl in Ohio killed herself after bullying that could be traced to 5th grade. The bullying was both at school and on the Internet. Very terrible. The parents are suing the school district.

I'm very glad we have this community, because although I know it's mostly for kids to vent about cyberbullying, it's also tremendous for me as a parent. Having interaction with teachers like you gives me peace of mind and actually serves to "calm me down" when I am veering into that very dangerous "Mama Bear mentality" which serves no one. Once I allow my temper to get the best of me, nothing good comes of it, so this web site helps a lot for regaining perspective.

Anyway, this was a lot, but thank you again -- and as always, THANK YOU, CYBERSMILE, FOR THE RESOURCE! LOVE YOU GUYS!

Heidi: I am so glad - it sounds like it was handled in a good way by the school.
And you are so right because as a teacher, I may add that one, unfortunately, don't always notice what happens in once classroom. I am lucky (I feel) that students trust me and talk to me about things in the knowledge that I am there for them. However last year I had a student suddenly brake down to tears because he was being bullied. This had been going on for over a month. Amongst different times of the school day, he told me, it had also happened during my classes. I felt so bad and ashamed not to have noticed. Yet I know I am only one adult with 26 teenagers in that class so obviously one can miss things. This only made me more convinced that bullying is a problem that needs to be adressed - always. Not only when something like this occurs but in a constant dialogue with pupils and with the staff. In the classroom and in teachers meetings. And not in that general way of "do not bully another child" or "if you see somthing tell someone" because obviously we have been telling children this for ages and somehow it still occurs. We, as the adults in a school, need to be able to discuss and talk strategy (like the one in your boy's school) but also discuss and have a constant dialogue with pupils about how they view and feel about the subject - showing that one truly is listening to them always gives them the confidence to talk and be more honest. No child is evil and when a child acts out in a way that can be percived cruel it is very important to handle and deal with that child in a caring way because we can never truly know the realities of another human - whatever facade they may present us with on a daily basis. One should never be quick to condemn anyone. Obviously the one who has been bullied needs to be heard and respected and treated with care, but the bully/ies need that too and not only to recive a scolding at home from an upset parent after a phonecall from school and a sharp telling from a teacher and/or principal.
Now, not all bullies have a tough time at home as it sounds like in that article (and surely whoever wrote the article have made a conscious decision to deal with that aspect of bullies). For some children there are just personal pressures that they put on themselves. No matter the reason (or position in a bullying "case") all children need to know that how they feel matters and that they are heard.
When it comes down to it, no bully can possibly claim that bullying another person is in anyway a good behavior that reflects who they are in a just way!

Stay amazing,
Thanks for your replies ... It turned out to be a very positive communicative experience with the school. When I emailed the teacher, I just laid out my own child's struggles with socialization due to his Asperger's and also just simply asked, "Do I need to come to the school for a conference?"
The next day, the teacher replied with details I didn't even know, and the teacher also copied the principal and two guidance counselors. Everyone then hopped onto the email thread and exchanged thoughts and ideas.
I also thanked the teacher for his thoughtful response. I shared that my child wanted to handle these things without my interference, and that I was going to let him work this out with his teacher and guidance counselor.
The teacher has since been helpful about making sure the new lab partner is a good fit, and he has also changed class rules for my child alone. He can get up from his desk at any time when he needs assistance, and in the past that was not the case.

Anyway, I know this is not a "cyber-bullying" issue, but it goes to the heart of how to handle bullying in general ... 1) Get information, 2) Shore up support, 3) Try to find a solution with authorities who can help and 4) Try to find compassion for the bully.

All of it is really hard!

In reply to Marti

I agree, great tactics Heidi. Getting school to respond pro-actively with issues like this is the only way. Otherwise they can get a little defensive!!
What a great perspective. We can't ignore a child's pain, even if they show that pain through bullying other people. I am so glad that the school responded, i think it was the way you thought through this so well and approached them. Most parents would have been laying the law down and demanding punishments etc. Well done Heidi. x
Thats a really good point, most young bullies are caught in a cycle of abusive behaviour, learned behaviour. If it isn't spotted then nobody gets the help or support they need.